Where squatting meets art at Ljubljana’s Metelkova

Metelkova in Ljubljana

What do you get when you take away societal norms and merge like-minded individuals with art, music and an entire underground scene that can go entirely unnoticed to people should they not walk down Metelkova 3 Street in Ljubljana, the capital of the tiny Central European country of Slovenia?

Answer: Metelkova.

Located a quick walk from the center of Ljubljana,  it has created one of the hottest underground scenes in all of Europe and today is a place where youth mingle, bands perform, beers are swilled at funky bars, NGOs work and art abounds.

Before the art

Day at Metelkova

Of course, this vibrant enclave wasn’t always the heart of the action. Like Hostel Celica, Metelkova was once a part of military barracks that began to waste away. It wasn’t until the Network for Metelkova was created in 1990, formed by more than 200 organizations as a part of the Movement for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence and the ŠKUC Association, one of the country’s top organizations for the promotion of non-profit artistic activities that this cultural center and massive underground scene began to take shape.

In 1991, the Network for Metelkova formally petitioned the Slovene government to take over the site, and while some promises were whispered regarding the area being handed over, nothing really changed. Two years later, over the course of Sept. 10 and 11, 1993, around 200 people gathered to prevent the destruction of the area and moved in to the neighborhood.

The rest is history.

Metelkova in Slovenia

Since 1995, Metelkova has been a self-ogranized autonomous zone where the squatters work together, decide together and live in this little neighborhood … together.

The scene

A look at day life in Metelkova

By day, Metelkova is a relatively quiet scene with explorers on bikes pedaling through the small area or late-teens and 20-somethings sitting around sipping beer on a warm day outside of art studios.

Bike ride in Ljbuljana

When I’m there, it is pretty peaceful and it is easy to get distracted by the vast array of art splayed on nearly every inch of building.

Street art in Metelkova

The art in Metelkova rivals that of Berlin, although Berlin’s street art scene is far larger of an area than the tiny autonomous community I explore in Ljubljana.

A sculpture in Metelokva

Metelkovca, Ljbuljana

Flowers and street art

Street art in Ljubljana

Art in Metelkova

By night, the entire area comes alive with dub-step competing with rock competing with banter of those simply enjoying all the area has to offer.

And it has quite a lot to offer.

Metelkova is home to heaps of cultural organizations, including KUD Anarhiv, a “social space for the research and development in the theory and practice of anarchistic and related movements,” the KUD Mreža Arts and Culture Association, as well as galleries, a cafe, market, workshops, NGOS and more.

Art in Ljubljana

This area lives and breathes with vigor and vibrance, and simply walking through I can feel the passion and energy thumping out of every crevice.

Getting there

From the train or bus station, exit and head right, following the signs towards Hostel Celica. The hostel is within the autonomous zone of Metelkova. To view on Google Maps, click here.

This post is part of  the D Travels Europe (and Israel) series. Stay up-to-date on all of my adventures by following along on Twitter (#dtravelseurope), Instagram,TroverG+ and Facebook. And, for a look at the health and wellness side of European travel, be sure to follow along at The Comfort Zone Project and on TCZP’s Facebook.

Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Hostel Celica and Visit Ljubljana for a portion of my week in Slovenia, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Published by dtravelsround

Awakening the soul while traveling ... a story of being on the cusp of adulthood.

23 thoughts on “Where squatting meets art at Ljubljana’s Metelkova

  1. I love this place! I visited Ljubjana a few weeks ago and loved Metelkova. It’s so gorgeous during the day and such a great place for a night out!


  2. This is sooo cool! Honestly, you should tour Europe finding places like these, it’s so inspiring and makes me want to jump in my ripped old converse and backpack out of my comfort zone 🙂


  3. What a cool-looking place! It reminds me a bit of some of the architecture in Barcelona (ok maybe just the outside, and not a lot, just a bit). I sure do love me some dub step too.


  4. We enjoyed a wander around this place last year, unfortunately it was the middle of winter so there wasn’t a lot going on but it was still a very cool place to visit. Would love to check it out in the summer.


  5. This looks like such an incredible place! I wish I knew about it when I went to Ljubljana a couple of months ago… Although it does give me a reason to go back 🙂


  6. Wow Diana, this place looks great!! I’m so glad that people protested the destruction of such a place. Think of what the world would be missing! And how lucky that you got to experience it! 🙂


  7. Metelkova is SUCH a cool place, and Celica hostel in particular. We have a similar area in Copenhagen called Freetown Christiania where the inhabitants have their own culture and set of rules. Lots of weird art and graffiti.


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